In today’s divisive world the eyes of racial inequality have been opened wider than ever before. Here is what they see: the killing of unarmed black people, underfunded education in predominantly black communities, limited access to health care, and black people underrepresented on corporate boards.
Let’s focus our attention on the largest employer in our county, the Regional Medical Center and its leadership. Our board of trustees' current makeup is as follows: 10 white board members and six black board members. This is called a super majority and exclusive.
The board plays a critical role in the evaluation and selection of the chief executive officer. This function has gained great scrutiny over the years with the embarrassingly low number of Black CEOs. The Regional Medical Center has set a precedent with maintaining CEO leadership for greater than 20 years, albeit all previous CEOs were white and the super majority of the board of trustees was white.
Diversity is the essential driver to strong leadership, community support and, most importantly, inclusion.
Diversity is the state of being and inclusion is the action of involvement in the decision making, policy formulation and procedural protocols. Unfortunately, diversity does not guarantee inclusion. Inclusion is controlled by the super majority. Hence, the importance of greater diversity on our hospital board. It is well documented that high-level diversity promotes social justice, provides access to a wider range of alternatives and perspectives, and flows down to employees to increase recruitment and retention.
Our current situation is a recipe for disaster. A whole pandemic, a half-diverse board, a quarter community support and no CEO. To this end, concerned citizens have been in conversation with Laura Evans, RMC board attorney, discussing the date of a community town hall and the addition of a community component to the selection of our next CEO.
Dr. Kevin Ray is an Orangeburg podiatrist.